Most restaurants offer crayons for children to color with while they wait for their food. Have you ever wondered what happens to them after you leave? The answer may surprise you.
Restaurants are required to throw away any crayons left on a table, even if they weren’t used. These crayons all eventually end up in a landfill, without ever seeing any use. Over the course of a year, hundreds of thousands of pounds of crayons are thrown away in restaurants, schools, and the like.
Bryan Ware, a California parent, was shocked to learn this when he asked a waiter before he and his family left a restaurant. In response to this fact, Bryan was determined to find a creative way to reuse these crayons.
In 2013, Bryan formed “The Crayon Initiative,” a nonprofit organization that takes donations of old crayons in order to be melted and repurposed into new crayons for children in California hospitals. The Crayon Initiative has sent over 2,000 packs of crayons and plans to send out 10,000 more by 2016. They are also starting to give the crayons to children in New York, with hopes that the joy can soon be delivered to kids around the country.
They are intentional about the way they handle and create these crayons, too. Bryan told ABC7, “We worked with an occupational therapist to design the crayons so they are easy for children to hold and so they won’t roll off of beds or trays. We do not wrap them in paper which can hold bacteria and we’ve had them tested to make sure bacteria from incoming crayons is killed during our process.”
Living your childhood in a hospital can be frightening, and requires an incredible amount of bravery. Supplying these children with something as simple as crayons can make a world of difference. These crayons light up children’s faces, and allow them to express their creativity as a means of an escape.